By Mike Angelo
4 September 2002 (C)
Nevertheless, Microsoft still owns some 85% to 90% of the personal-computer operating-system market. If Linux is to become more of a major player in that operating system arena, it has its work cut out for it.
Meanwhile, some of the larger and more commercial Linux distribution providers have been developing and selling high-end Linux-based server platforms -- in order to go after the advanced and enterprise server market. A market dominated by UNIX and Microsoft operating systems.
Successful grazing and foraging in this high-end, advanced and enterprise, server market is very important -- especially for Linux distribution providers. Simply put, this high-end, advanced and enterprise, server market is where the big bucks are to be found. The revenues this high-end, advanced and enterprise, server market can provide is what enables Linux distribution providers to pay the freight for development of free and/or low-priced Linux distributions for individual end-users and the small-and-medium-business users.
Mark de Visser is Marketing Vice-President at Red hat. We had the pleasure of discussing LSB, UnitedLinux, and McBride's comments with him on the phone and by e-mail. Here is some of what he said about Red Hat's forays into the advanced and enterprise server market:
Mark de Visser: We focus very clearly on the enterprise market. That does not preclude the fact that SMB [small-and-medium-size business] markets use our software, but the majority of our revenues are driven by enterprise customers. . . .
Our focus is very much on our competition with the UNIX providers - as you suggested it should be . . . Focus is essential if you want your company to succeed.
Our primary opportunity is in going after the UNIX market. Linux on Intel has enormous benefits over UNIX on Risc platforms, both in performance and in cost of ownership. And the transition from UNIX to Linux is relatively simple because of the similarities in tools, capabilities and UI [User Interface].
By the way, every time we compete for a migration by a UNIX customer, Microsoft competes too.
Now, if you think about it there is little sense to the Linux distribution producers to aim their development and marketing efforts at grabbing business from other Linux distribution providers. For one thing, Linux likely has less than a ten per-cent share of the operating-system market. If the Linux distributors simply grab business from each other, there is no growth in the overall size of the Linux market.
However, if the Linux distributors instead aim their development and marketing efforts at grabbing business from UNIX and Microsoft, then the Linux distributors not only increase their individual businesses. They also increase the overall market share that goes to Linux and decrease the market share that goes to UNIX and Windows. Please notice from Mark de Visser's statements above, that is exactly what Red Hat is doing. SuSE spokespeople also say SuSE's market targets are UNIX and MS Windows.
Moreover, with UNIX and Microsoft having what likely is more than 90% of the OS market, there are many more target-customers to go after in the UNIX and MS Windows customer-base than there are in the Linux customer-base. The UNIX and Microsoft pasture is much greener than the Linux pasture for new business hunting.
From the point of advancing the growth of Linux and the Linux community that makes lots of sense. On the other hand, it likely is a sense that the owners of the Windows and UNIX operating systems care not to see made.
By, in essence, working cooperatively to increase Linux's share of the total OS market, each Linux distribution provider can increase its overall sales even though it does not increase its percentage share of the Linux market. That's simple math. If you get the same percentage share of a bigger pie rather than a smaller pie, you get a bigger bite.
So, it clearly makes more sense for the Linux distribution providers and other citizens of the Linux community to cooperate in order to increase the overall size of the Linux pie -- rather than fight over the same crumbs in a smaller pie.
Up to now, that is pretty much the way things have been working in the wonderful world of Linux. And doing that has worked well for Linux and the Linux community. Linux has made terrific progress.
Well it did make lots of sense, until -- enter Caldera's Darl McBride.
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